In Volume 1 of Itazura Choucho, we met Nanoha and Sakura, two young women in a performing arts school who have an intense relationship with each other and with their chosen means of performing. In Volume 2, each get a coach. Sakura’s is a traditional oni-coach whose demands threaten to tear her and Nanoha apart, while Nanoha faces a crisis with her own abilities.
And, in Itazura Choucho, Volume 3 (悪戯ちょうちょ), it’s all going to come to a head. As the big competition approaches, Nanoha is unable to sing at all, and Sakura has been playing piano at a wine bar to get past the stress of performing in front of an audience. More importantly, she finds that people are responding to her piano-playing positively.
Sakura forces Nanoha to respond to her feelings, Nanoha admits that not being able to sing makes her feel unable to respond. But Sakura’s playing reignites Nanoha’s love of music and she finds her voice again.
But peace is not yet their lot. Circumstances pull them apart one last time and instead of working together for the competition, they find themselves competing against each other. This time, it’s Nanoha’s coach to the rescue, and Nanoha finds her center. When the competition comes, she stands on the stage and sings, a capella. Sakura is sure she can hear a message for herself in the words. When it’s Sakura time to compete she blows the audience, the judges and Nanoha away with her passion and skill. The butterflies of Chopin’s Butterfly Etude fill the auditorium.
In the final pages, Nanoha and Sakura part, so Sakura can study overseas, but knowing that they will not be parted for long because they love each other.
I wasn’t really sure how to approach this series originally, but I’m glad I stuck with it. Ultimately, it was more about finding one’s self and understanding one’s own passion than about love, but the love is a pleasant by-product. I came to enjoy the art, which visually communicates many emotions, especially for the performance scenes, although some of the faces started to break up towards the middle of this volume.
Art – 8
Story – 8
Characters – 8
Yuri – 6
Service – 1
Overall – 8